Huariou Forum Ends With Ceremony and Final Press Conference
The final day in Huairou was, again, wet and muddy, as NGO participants conducted their last day of work and workshops. The number of participants ended at over 31,000 compared to the 1985 Third World Conference On Women in Nairobi where only 300 NGO's were represented by 10,000 participants.
The program led with young feminists from around the world presenting their hopes and plans to contribute to the efforts of the NGO's, acknowledging the work that has been done by women active in NGO's for many years and asking that their own contributions be accepted. Chinese dancers and gymnasts also braved the rain and wind to perform.
Supatra Masdit, Convenor of the NGO Forum, concluded the historic event with a 6pm press conference held with representatives of the the China Organizing Committee (COC).
"Throughout the ten days of meetings, the NGO Forum has brought together women from almost every country and from almost every sector of political and community work, engaging in over 5,000 activities. These outstanding women came here with a commitment to advance the cause of all women and they shared their expertise, achievements and concerns," said Masdit.
The China Organizing Committee, which came under attack by a number of the feminists attending the NGO Forum because of reports of harassment by Chinese authorities, transportation hassles and difficulties faced by differently-abled participants, defended itself at the final press conference.
According to officials of the COC, over 7,000 motor vehicles were used to transport participants and the over 3,000 Chinese volunteers who helped Forum participants with everything from logistics to workshop room set-up. The official spokesperson for the COC expressed surprise at the idea that some Forum participants had changed their COC assigned hotels upon arrival in China and he was especially frustrated that COC workers could not easily find participants with special needs.
Masdit concluded her portion of the press conference by saying, "the NGO Forum marks a turning point in the women's movement from all walks of life. The exchanges have sometimes been spirited, and sometimes heated. Upon returning home, the participants of the Forum will tell others about the outstanding women who came to Huairou, China."
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